Legendary Cornish comedian Jethro is bringing his unique style of comedy to the Wyvern Theatre this April. Ahead of his tour dates in Swindon, Jethro chatted to us about what he misses about home when he's on the road, how he first discovered he could tell a tale and what he thinks of comics today.
How did you discover that you could tell a good joke/ story?
By accident really, I used to sing a few folk songs down the pub, but one evening I ran out of voice, so I had to tell a few stories to pad out the rest of my slot. After the show the landlord came up to me and said 'Jethro we don't want you telling jokes, you'll be for the sack'. Anyway, when the next week rolled around there was a massive crowd there all wanting to hear my jokes again, and the rest is history.
Do you think that your comedy routines have changed much over the years?
I think the humour's got a bit sillier now, sometimes its absolute nonsense. The show changes all of the time, depending on the audience or what's in the news, I'll cater my shows to suit what's happening in the world.
Your new tour is called 'The Legend at Large' would you consider yourself a legend?
You should never believe your own publicity, that's how your feet come off the ground. But I will say this, I'm 66 and still doing what I love, so I'd like to think that I'm doing something right.
Who were your comedy idols while growing up?
I would have to say Les Dawson, Frank Carson and Billy Connolly. Jim Davidson taught me a lot in the early days. I also used to love good old fashioned comedies like Dad's Army, Rising Damp - I was a huge fan of actors. I'm a storyteller first and foremost and acting is a fair part of what I do.
What do you miss about home when you’re on tour?
The fact that there's no big roads at home, I'm not used to these 4 lane carriageways, I'd prefer to be stuck behind a tractor down a country lane than risking my life on the motorway.
When you’re not on stage, how do you like to spend your free time?
I don't get any free time! I never get a day off! I haven't had a holiday for 28 years and haven't been in a restaurant in over 20 - I'm basically a recluse. When I get away from the hustle and bustle of 'show business' I don't tend to go anywhere. To get me to leave the house is nearly impossible but it's what I enjoy - everybody's different after all.
Out of all the jokes you have written, and told, what's your favourite of them all?
What was my favourite joke 12 months ago probably won't be my favourite now. I still get asked for about 4 different stories and strangely they're the hardest ones to tell, but when they're told right, they're funny. I need a good audience for them, so I don't dare share them if I've got a rubbish crowd.
Where do you get the inspiration from for your stories and jokes?
With my job, I set the bench mark, I'll do a show and try be as good as I can be and the next time I go back I have to be as good, if not better than before. It's an endless fight against myself to be funny really.
How has the industry changed since your first started out?
It's totally different. The new comedy I just don't find funny. I've watched it for thousands of hours and it just doesn't make me laugh. I was probably born 30 years too early, had I have been born later I'm sure that I would have loved it. But it's just not my comedy, I like a story with a good start, middle and end. All of the comics nowadays are far too similar, if you look back to my era, every comic had their own style and I like that, and that’s how comedy should be.
Looking back what would you say some of your career highlights have been?
Well I suppose I should probably mention entertaining the Royals at the Royal Variety Show, I set myself the target of selling out the Bristol Hippodrome and I've done that, so I can die a happy man.
What advice would you to give someone looking to pursue a career as a comedian?
I would say, be different, have your own style and make yourself a little bit unique. If you're the only one working the way that you're working I think you'll climb the ladder quicker, it's a long ladder nowadays, so do anything to give yourself that edge.